Georgia Football: Grading the Dawgs mid-season

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 14: Carson Beck #15 of the Georgia Bulldogs hikes the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first half at FirstBank Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Carly Mackler/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 14: Carson Beck #15 of the Georgia Bulldogs hikes the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first half at FirstBank Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Carly Mackler/Getty Images) /

It’s Monday, and grades will be given out even though Georgia Football didn’t play last week. I’m like that one teacher in high school who grades everything, and kids hate me. Do I care? No! In this report card, we will be grading the Dawgs based on how they have been doing up to this point. This Georgia team is still a mystery to me, but I will still do my due diligence to grade them correctly. Remember, we go off on the Fulton County Schools System grading scale. There are no D’s, only F’s. No team or player is left behind here at the Max Tolbert Football Academy. Alright, let’s get into the grades.

Offense: B

If you graded the Georgia offense based on Social Media, the Dawgs would be in the range of C- or an F. Thankfully, football is not played on social media. So we do not have to listen to DAWG4LIFE2346 for our thoughts on the Dawgs. The Georgia offense has been up to or near expectations. As a team, Georgia has 2,359 passing and 1,207 rushing yards. Furthermore, the Dawgs are averaging 41 points per game.

That is all you could ask for out of an offense. With those numbers, the Dawgs are a tough team to beat. That is why I do not understand fans’ complaints about the offense. Carson Beck has been phenomenal, with 2,147 yards passing, 12 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. Beck has done everything he needs to keep Georgia in ball games. Furthermore, Aaron Murray was right about hyping Beck up; the kid is a stud.

Daijun Edwards leads the team in rushing yards with 460 on 80 carries. That is 5.75 yards per carry. We will round up and, say, 6 yards per carry. Edwards also has six rushing touchdowns. Edwards was out most of the early part of the season and is leading the team in rushing. That is all you need to know about how special of a player Edwards is.

The one complaint some would have would be about the running game, but after watching seven games, Georgia is not a running team. This is a pass-first offense; all you can ask is for the Dawgs to run effectively. So, I have stopped worrying about the run game.

So why does an offense with over 3,000 yards get a B? Well, here is my issue: the turnovers and the touchdown-to-field goal ratio. The turnovers are not bad, but the Dawgs’ defense has not forced too many turnovers this year. I do not know if the Dawgs are plus or minus on the turnovers, but we are -4.

Here is the biggest weakness of Georgia going down the stretch. No, it is not having Brock Bowers in the next four big games. It is kicking field goals in the red zone. Out of everything that will cost you a game, kicking field goals and not scoring touchdowns is an excellent formula to lose. Instead, I would want Kirby Smart to go for it on every 4th down rather than kick a field goal.

Smart talked about the touchdown-to-field goal ratio recently and was also concerned with it. So, that got worked on in the bye week. If the Dawgs had not kicked so many field goals in the red zone, this team would feel like a number one team.

Defense: B-

I have said this repeatedly, but I will not be overly critical of a Kirby Smart defense. This defense does not feel like the past few years. Now I know those two defenses were the best in college football history, especially the 2021 defense. But I still had high expectations for this defense. The defensive backs are probably the best in college football. There is not a defensive backfield as good as the one in Athens. The defensive line is pretty good, as well. Teams would kill to have Georgia’s D-line. But the linebackers for this Georgia team have been the weakness. I do not know what happened in under a year, but they are not playing as I thought. Hopefully, this week will be the turnaround for the linebackers and the defense. The Dawgs must rely on its defense to win the next four games.

Given how negative I am about the defense, you would probably think the Dawgs are horrendous. But they are in the top 5 of defenses in the country. But Georgia fan’s expectations are higher, and we like to see a dominant defense. Georgia’s third-down defense is one of the best in the country. Opponents have only converted 23% of third downs when they face the Dawgs. The Dawgs have only given up five rushing touchdowns and 640 yards running. Furthermore, the Dawgs have only given up eight passing touchdowns and 1,198 yards through the air. The Dawgs defense has only given up 13 touchdowns all year. Pretty good. The only issue in that number is that most touchdowns have come in the red zone. The past two seasons, Georgia’s red zone defense has been the best in the country, but this year, not so much. The Dawgs need to do a better job at stopping teams from scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

Overall, this defense is good but not elite. Most teams would be thrilled to have Georgia’s defense, and if it was USC, the national media would be praising this team. I would like to see some improvement from the defense. If the defense can improve, the Dawgs will play for the national championship and be the favorites in that game. So, I am begging the defense to become elite. Hopefully, my and a few thousand people’s pleading will get the Dawg’s defense on track. We will see.

Special Teams: A-

If the bye week came earlier, I would give the special teams a C-. But since the UAB game, this unit has turned it around. Peyton Woodring has been automatic, and Bret Thronson has been great. Furthermore, Mehki Mews has been a pleasant surprise as the punt returner. The only issue I have with Mews is the muffed punts. But that has been fixed. Overall, the Special teams have been good for the Dawgs and have put the Dawgs in positions to win. That is all you can ask for out of special teams.

Overall: A- 

The Dawgs are the number-one team in the country and are undefeated. That is all you can ask for as a fan. It’s nice. But as Kirby Smart says, the wind blows harder at the mountaintop. This team has some flaws, but they are all fixable flaws because of the talent they have on this roster. I believe in this team and that Georgia can and will win the national championship. Nothing has told or shown me otherwise. I do not think there is a team that can beat Georgia straight up. Now, could specific teams give the Dawgs a run for the money? Yes,  But I would still take the Dawgs over Michigan, Alabama, and Ohio State.

The MVP of the halfway point has to be Brock Bowers and Carson Beck. Beck has been fantastic for the Dawgs; we all know about Bowers. The next four games are going to be tough without him. But losing a tight end is different than losing a QB. With Beck operating the offense, the Dawgs are more than capable of winning all the games. We revisit this report card after the regular season or the SEC championship. We will see where the Dawgs improved or got worse. Think of this as a midterm report card. Hopefully, the Dawgs can improve in some areas and get all A’s.

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